February the 6th, 2024 – The Croatian labour market has been patching up gaps with foreign nationals, but fluctuations still remain and turnover issues are becoming more and more apparent.
As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Employers’ Association (HUP) recently concluded that more than half a million foreign workers will likely be working in Croatia by 2030, as TCN and HRT reported.
HUP Director General Irena Weber said that the situation on the Croatian labour market has been characterised by a serious labour shortage for several years now, driven by the emigration of Croatian workers and negative demographic trends.
Despite the strong growth of the domestic economy and the highest employment level in the country’s history, there is still a very pronounced need for workers, and Weber has duly warned of a serious turnover problem among foreign workers who often leave the country after a short stay. “These workers arrive in Croatia, and sometimes they simply leave in a few days to go and work in other EU countries, so it’s still a big risk for employers to keep hold of these foreign workers as well,” revealed Weber.
When asked about the conditions foreign workers patching up gaps in the Croatian labour market have to deal with, Weber emphasised the importance of not taking individual cases out of context and clearly distanced herself from situations in which poor accommodation and exploitation have been reported. She pointed out that the Croatian Employers’ Association strongly condemns issues like exploitation and subpar treatment, and supports the elimination of greedy employers engaging in such behaviour, and for the imposing of the appropriate sanctions.
“We believe that the state institutions should eliminate employers like that from the market entirely, and that they should be adequately punished. We believe that foreign workers should be treated in the same way as domestic workers in accordance with the Labour Law, that they should be treated with respect and with absolutely all of the benefits that their status should legally provide,” said Weber.
The need to change the legislation on foreigners was also discussed, and Weber announced a working meeting with the Minister of the Interior to discuss the details together with the trade union partners.
“The Croatian Employers’ Association advocates respect for the equal rules of the game for all those on the Croatian labour market, while at the same time seeking the relaxation of restrictions, the modernisation of labour laws and further tax relief for work,” said Weber.
When asked about the low wages typically earned by foreign workers, especially those from third countries, Weber claimed that this doesn’t affect the price of labour in Croatia, emphasising the high demand for foreign nationals on the Croatian labour market as a result of dire demographic trends. She hopes for further growth of the current standards and the retention of experts in the country, noting the strong growth of wages of late.
“I’d like to remind you that the year before last, Croatian wages grew by over 20%, last year they grew by an additional 20%, if we include non-taxable benefits, that growth is actually much higher. It’s also very important to note that real wages grew between 3 and 5% last year. So, yes, the standard is increasing. We’d really be the happiest possible if salaries could be increased several times literally overnight and we could keep our own people and prevent them from going abroad. And not only that, but we’d love to be able to bring back our people who went abroad. We’d ideally want them returned to the Croatian labour market, see them create added value and have them contribute to the growth of our country’s economy. That’s what we’re working on. As I said, wage growth is really strong and has compensated for inflationary pressures, the gap between the standards at the level of the EU and at the level of Croatia really is decreasing”, concluded Weber.